Cait Flanders was $19,800 in debt five years ago; she then made a life changing decision to manage her finances better and get out of debt. Her plan was a success; however, she realised she was not saving as much as she wanted to; her financial planning skills were off. So, in 2014, she made another life-changing decision: to stop shopping. A year later, she is on track to achieving her financial goals, and there is a lot you can learn from her experiences:
1. You Don’t Need All That
At the beginning, she began to de-clutter her life and realized that she had over 50 unread books, yet she had kept buying more. She made a decision to only buy what she needs. A common financial mistake people make is spending money on things they don’t need. However, if you take a critical look at your life, you will realise you do not need 6 bottles of shampoo and 12 shower gels.
2. Financial Sobriety
After her self-imposed ban, Cait took stock of her life taking note of expenses that were drying her pockets. By taking stock of her life, she realised that we often spend money without realising we are spending it. For example, she banned herself from buying takeout coffee, which made her realize that it took less than 2-minutes to make coffee at home. The reality is that we rarely look at our financial decisions with a sober mind thus we keep spending money we could otherwise save.
3. Peer Pressure
A lot of spending decisions are made to impress friends. Cait confesses that before she started working on her debt, she would end up going out with her friends every single night, spending more than she intended or repeatedly buying books that made her look cool. Often, we succumb to pressure from friends and family and end up going way over budget. However, Cait’s experiences teach us that our lives will be happier if we live within our budgets and we are more likely to influence our friends positively.
4. What Really Matters
In the end, what matters is not the money we spend on ourselves or our loved ones, but the value and laughter we add to their lives, a lesson Cait learned the hard way. She openly admits the decision to stop shopping has made her happier as she can now focus on her well-being without the short-lived gratification of material things.
5. It Could Save the World
When she began her year-long journey, she did not anticipate the effect it would have on her life. Now she aspires to live a more sustainable life and not succumb to the pressure that comes from continuous exposure to adverts as she continues with the ban for another year. Sustainable living is more affordable and will do more good than harm to mother earth.
Financial freedom begins with making the hard decisions. It may seem a little difficult at the beginning but bear in mind that nothing good comes easy.